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Fan conflict or complement? Exploring the intersection of sports betting and team loyalty

Brendan Dwyer (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Stephen L. Shapiro (University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)
Joris Drayer (Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 13 February 2024




The purpose of this paper was (1) to examine the underexplored intersection of sports betting and favorite team loyalty, and (2) to assess differences in gambling behavior among sport bettors by varying levels of team loyalty.


A total of 1,555 National Football League (NFL) bettors and non-betting NFL fans were surveyed to assess media consumption across a mix of team loyalty attitudes and betting behaviors.


Statistically significant differences were found between four types of NFL fans (casual, team loyalty-dominant, betting-dominant and hybrid) as it relates to media consumption in various forms. Most notably, the results suggested symbiosis between the activities.

Research limitations/implications

The symbiosis finding, though preliminary, suggests the activity provides an additional platform for consumers to connect with spectator sport. Furthermore, the act of betting, like participation in fantasy sports, appears to spur consumption of the NFL product generally. The study, however, was limited to NFL fans, did not specify the method for sports betting, nor the intensity of gambling.

Practical implications

Teams should not worry that betting detracts from fan engagement with the team product. Also, leagues and media providers should continue to highlight betting content as participants consume at higher rates than non-participating sports fans.

Social implications

Team fandom may potentially moderate problem behavior among bettors. The betting results indicate being a loyal team fan lowers one’s gambling spend per month and largest bet compared to non-loyal bettors. However, the hybrid fan showed significantly higher media consumption levels.


Sports fans have more opportunities to interact and engage with their favorite games than ever before. However, consumers have limited amounts of time and money, and this study is one of the first to examine differences in fan interests and behaviors related to sport betting and team loyalty and the resulting viewership and consumption behavior.



Dwyer, B., Shapiro, S.L. and Drayer, J. (2024), "Fan conflict or complement? Exploring the intersection of sports betting and team loyalty", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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